Mourning the state of cafecito in Hialeah

cafecito.jpgMy hometown of Hialeah, what is likely the most Cuban-American city in the United States and a place where 92% of its residents are Spanish speakers, has been forever changed.

A Starbucks has opened. And on the big 49th Street no less.

If you’re not familiar with Hialeah, it’s a place where the tiny shot of 50-cent Cuban coffee is king. It’s a place where the tiny paper cups of hyper-caffeinated black cafecito are served up through a window, and big yellow water coolers are kept on the windowsill because the stuff is so strong. And this is no small town either; it’s the fifth largest in Florida, making it more populous than Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

starbucks.jpgThis development is akin to finding a McDonald’s in Iran or an Outback Steakhouse in India. Unsettling.

The idea of a Starbucks in Hialeah has long been a topic of rueful speculation in my family. “Will a Starbucks ever open?” we wondered. “And will it last?” We love the vanilla bean frappuccino but feel strange about having it parked too close to home.

For better or worse, it feels like the culture of my hometown is changing and that one of the strikingly unique places in this country is being whittled away.

[Photos by augschburger and presidentservelan]

Author: Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's and Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.

2 thoughts on “Mourning the state of cafecito in Hialeah”

  1. At least there’s some of the reverse going on — Pollo Tropical has practically become a regional chain.

    A couple trips home ago, I found myself eating platanos, arroz y frijoles negros in Pembroke Pines, of all places.

  2. Ha! Much as I enjoy Pollo Tropical, I’m actually rather upset at them the moment. They’ve apparently closed the location near my home in Orlando. I was able to get one of those delicious Tropichops for just $3.50. Sigh.

    Pembroke Pines is actually fairly Cuban-American also. A lot of the people who made their homes in Hialeah eventually did well for themselves and moved it on up to Miami Lakes just north, and Miramar and Pembroke Pines in Broward County. Now the same effect is somewhat occuring in Palm Beach County and as far north as Gainesville as people strive to avoid the traffic down there.

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